Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction; Romance; LGBT+
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid, “a genius when it comes to stories about life and love” (Redbook), comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for “creating complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author I’ve always wanted to read a book by but hadn’t yet. I was very excited to get to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and experience her writing. I had heard such great things about her books.

I was a little nervous about reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because a couple of my trusted blogger friends were not impressed by it. After reading it, I can understand why this book may not be for some readers. It’s filled with uncomfortable situations and moments. Evelyn was unabashedly candid in the telling of her life story. She was unapologetic about the people she hurt or wronged. Some, if not all, of her decisions will disgust some readers. Evelyn was simply unlikable.

I wasn’t a fan of Evelyn’s, but I did appreciate her story. The methods she used to get what she wanted were brash, but she acknowledged that. Everything she did, right or wrong, made for an interesting tale. I wasn’t put off by most of her actions. I liked how they led to and explained her seven husbands. I truly enjoyed the journey through Evelyn’s life and loves.

Monique wasn’t much of a character at first. Her story loosely wove around Evelyn’s, and I also found it hard to like her. I don’t know that I ever ended up liking her, but I did end up respecting her. The things she learned about Evelyn and from Evelyn were profound. I loved that she put to use what she learned.

From the book blurb, the reader knows going into the story that Evelyn and Monique’s lives intertwine in some way. I never could have guessed how. It was definitely a twist I didn’t see coming. It was perfect and I really like what it did to the story line. It made the ending all that more perfect.

I may not have fallen in love with the characters of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I was mesmerized by the story. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer capable of weaving a multifaceted tale. I loved her writing style, and I am looking forward to reading her other books.

Review: The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

30068929The Guests of South Battery
Series: Tradd Street, #5
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Romance, Fiction
Note: I received an ARC from Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away…

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried….


I was excited when I heard Karen White was going to be continuing her Tradd Street series. I was sure the fourth book, Return to Tradd Street, was going to be the end. That made me so sad because I loved every minute of this quirky series. Luckily, I was wrong!

The minute I began The Guests on South Battery, I was immediately sucked back into Melanie Middleton Trenholm’s world. It was fun to be back in her uptight mind, traversing around downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Despite getting married and having twins, Melanie hadn’t changed much. She still had her insecurities and anal-retentive compulsions. I enjoyed seeing how Jack, her husband, dealt with them. Their relationship was changing and progressing throughout the entire story and I loved that a lot.

I also loved how Karen White brought back all of my favorite characters from the entire series. She gave them each the perfect part in this story. There were also some great new characters introduced. They added some cool twists to the mystery of the story and brought a new depth to the recurring characters and their histories. I especially liked Jayne and her role in The Guests on South Battery.

My favorite thing about The Guests on South Battery, though; was the mystery of the story. I was fascinated by Jayne randomly inheriting the house on South Battery. I was dying to know why the previous owner chose her the entire time I was reading. I knew the ghosts inhabiting the house were somehow involved in the answer, but I never would have guessed why.

My only little issue with The Guests of South Battery was Melanie’s insecurity surrounding her post-baby life. She’s always been insecure, but there was denial she was going through that was a little odd. I didn’t like the way those around her acted about it. They were all controlling a part of her life and I didn’t really understand why. It was almost like I was missing a piece of their interactions or something. It didn’t make me dislike the book, but I just found it a bit…odd.

Once again, Karen White has written a beautifully crafted mystery. I truly loved reading The Ghosts on South Battery and being back in Charleston with the Middletons and the Trenholms. It was such a fun ghost story/romance/mystery. I especially loved the ending and how I felt that it left things open for the possibilities of more books in the series. I highly recommend the entire Tradd Street series to readers who like mysteries with a historical touch.

Review: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

6096187Good in Bed
Series: Cannie Shapiro, #1
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publication Date: April 2, 2002
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Note: I received an e-book from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.

But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.


Good in Bed is a book I jumped at reading when NetGalley sent out an email announcing it was available to download for a day or two. I hadn’t read any of Jennifer Weiner’s books before, but I wanted to. It was the perfect opportunity to try out a new-to-me author.

Sadly, Good in Bed didn’t turn out to be the book I was hoping it would be. From the blurb, Good in Bed sounds like an inspirational story. It wasn’t. Well, maybe the last few chapters were, but the rest of it was complete misery.

While I could completely empathize with Cannie and her entire situation, I didn’t like her. Her poor me attitude throughout the entire story put a damper on the book. I also didn’t like the way she treated people. At one point, I actually considered DNFing the book because I didn’t think I could handle anymore of her.

Another thing I wasn’t fond of in Good in Bed was Cannie’s trip to L.A. It seemed too perfect. Everything was just suddenly handed to her. That entire part of the plot felt out-of-place.

What I did love about Good in Bed was Cannie’s entire relationship with Dr. K. The support and friendship he gave Cannie was really cool. I loved the way their relationship grew over time and changed naturally. Dr. K was a great guy. Honestly, Dr. K is one of the reasons I didn’t give this book 2 stars. He saved it in the end for me.

The other reason Good in Bed got 3 stars is Jennifer Weiner’s writing. While I didn’t like Cannie, I was impressed that her moods influenced my moods. I credit that to great writing. It takes great skills to influence how people feel.

Obviously, I didn’t love this book. It ended up being just okay for me. I think it’s one of those “It’s not you, it’s me.” things because I know this is a very popular book.

Review: Four Days by Jamie Campbell

28578511Four Days
Series: Luci Wijn, #1
Author: Jamie Campbell
Publication Date: October 5, 2015
Publisher: Eltham Press
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

“I knew. I always knew that his hold on me was so close to absolute that it made no odds.”

When your partner, your lover, your coach cheats on you it’s supposed to be easy to end things. It’s supposed to be.

It wasn’t. Not for twenty-four-year-old Luci Wijn. Not even being a world away from that man was far enough to end it.

Luci had long ago given up on having the life she’d planned. On having a career she’d be proud of. In her first season she had come so close to the making the top fifty in Women’s Professional Tennis. So close. But in tennis an inch is a mile and one year counts for nothing in the next.

James Bell was a quiet ride to the airport. He should never have been anything more. Yet Luci’s slide to the bottom of the world ended when she met James.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Four Days is a story of two people who grow a relationship from silence. Two people who become a little less lost by dealing with that silence. Four Days is a book of a hope.


Four Days is unlike any other new adult contemporary sports romance I’ve read. In fact, I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it in that genre. Four Days felt more like it belonged in the women’s fiction genre to me. The focus of the story wasn’t the romance. Yes, Luci did connect with James along the way and a big part of the story was her sport, but that wasn’t what stood out. The focus of Four Days was a meandering journey of self-discovery and healing for Luci.

To be honest, I had a bit of trouble connecting with Luci at the beginning. Four Days was told in her first person narrative and her thoughts drove the story. Luci was very negative about the turns her life had taken, and what should have been a happy time felt depressing. As the story went on, I found Luci to be a very interesting character. She really just needed someone to help raise her confidence and show her there was more for her. I loved that James was that character. His support and desire to help Luci improve brought a lightness to the story. James helped push Luci to attack the challenges in her way. Their connection in the end was sweet and sexy.

My favorite element of Four Days was the setting. The descriptions of New Zealand were beautiful. I felt like I was experiencing Luci and James’ cross country trek myself. Over the four days, New Zealand truly became a character.

Four Days may have not been the contemporary romance I was expecting, but it was a beautifully written story of a woman finding herself, her sport and possibly a new romance again.

Review: Carolina Heart by Virginia Kantra

Carolina Heart
Series: Dare Island, #4.5
Author: Virginia Kantra
Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Determined to leave her wild past behind her, Cynthie Lodge is forging a new life for herself and her daughters—one that’s man-free and drama-free. But not everyone is so eager to let go of the past.

When sexy loner Max Lewis returns to Dare Island, seeing Cynthie again rekindles his feelings for his high school crush. Now he must convince her to take another chance on love.


Carolina Heart was a great addition to Virginia Kantra’s Dare Island series. Despite being a short and sweet novella, it had a big emotional punch. Both Cynthie and Max were trying to move on from their high school labels. Neither could see that they already had. It took falling in love with each other to prove to themselves that they weren’t who they were in high school anymore, they were better versions of themselves.

This novella was a light and easy to read story that was so much fun. It was exactly what I’m looking for when I pick up a contemporary romance. Virginia Kantra’s entire Dare Island series is. I would highly suggest it to adult contemporary romance readers who like a fast-paced and romantic read.

Review: To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne

To Have and To Hold
Series:
The Wedding Belles, #1
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis: 

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true… but their own.

 

Discovering her fiance is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

 

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiance is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning… is theirs?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Earlier this spring I read From This Day Forward, the prequel novella to Lauren Layne’s The Wedding Belles series. That short taste got me very excited for what was to come in the series. When I saw To Have and To Hold on NetGalley, I had to click request. I’m so happy I did! As always, Lauren Layne’s writing was smart, sharp-witted and fun to read.

In To Have and To Hold, Brooke Baldwin has run from her past in L.A. to join one of the most prestigious New York wedding planning companies. She’s hoping the new start will make everyone forget about the worst day of her life. She needs Maya Tyler’s wedding to go off without a hitch to redeem herself. She’s determined to give Maya the wedding of her dreams — no matter what her rich, grouchy, sexy brother says.

Seth Taylor isn’t about to let his only sister marry someone he knows absolutely nothing about. Someone he doesn’t think is telling the truth. So Seth sets out to discover the truth the only way he can think of  — holding the purse strings and tagging along for all of the wedding planning. Seth’s plan is going smoothly until a certain beautiful wedding planner gets in his way. If Seth wants to stop this wedding, he’s going to have to figure out how to get Brooke on his side.

I knew Seth and Brooke’s love story was going to be entertaining to watch unfold from the minute they met. Their instant attraction was palpable, and their opposite goals could only lead to friction. The fact that neither of them was looking for any sort of relationship added to the fun.

Seth was my favorite character. His sourpuss attitude was amusing. He was such a caring guy, but really had a hard time showing it in an appropriate way. I loved the witty banter his grouchy, controlling disposition created.

Brooke was a very sweet character. She had been hurt badly in the past, but still believed in happily ever after. She was the perfect balance to Seth. I enjoyed the way she wouldn’t let him get away with ruining things for his sister.

I did feel like Brooke’s story was missing something, though. Her relationship with Clay hurt her badly, but even after she moved on to Seth, I never felt like she dealt with what he did to her. I don’t want to give anything away, but I would have liked to have seen her take a more active role in dealing with him.

 

I can’t leave out the supporting characters in this review. Maya made me smile. She was a spoiled little rich girl, but one who was sweet and kind of innocent. Her wedding planning adventures with Brooke were so much fun to read. And then there was Seth’s best buddy, Grant. I really wanted to know more about this guy! He deserves his own book, in my opinion.

To Have and To Hold was charming story about finding love when you least expect it. Fans of LL and her contemporary romances are sure to swoon for this delightful love story. And if you have yet to read one of her books, this would be a great place to start.

Release Day Review: Fearless in Love by Bella Andre & Jennifer Skully

Fearless in Love
Series:
The Maverick Billionaires, #3
Authors: Bella Andre, Jennifer Skully
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the authors in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

After growing up dirt poor in a seedy Chicago neighborhood, Matt Tremont seemingly has it all now—brains, brawn, and billions. And most importantly, Noah, his five-year-old son, the one good outcome of a disastrous relationship that destroyed his last ounce of trust. The only thing he’s lacking is the perfect nanny for his son. And Ariana Jones is absolute perfection. Utterly enchanting. Completely fascinating. And totally off limits.

Like a match made in heaven, this is Ari’s dream job. Swallowed up in the foster care system after losing her brother and mother, Ari has always dreamed of family. She showers five-year-old Noah with all the love she’s kept bottled up inside. Love she could also offer to her gorgeous billionaire boss—if only he weren’t the very last man she could ever hope to have.

But when sizzling sparks of attraction turn into a forbidden, sinfully hot night of pleasure, will Ari’s love be enough to make Matt forget the past and love fearlessly?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


When I found out a new book was being released in Bella Andre and Jennifer Skully’s The Maverick Billionaires series, I was so excited. It felt like it had been so long since I read Breathless in Love and Reckless in Love. I was ready to dive back into the series and find out what the next billionaire had in store for him.

Fearless in Love was fun, fresh and passionate. The combination of Andre and Skully’s writing was just as wonderful as it had been in the first two books. Their styles meld so well together, you can’t even tell there are two authors for one story.

I liked both of the main characters, but Ari stood out to me. She was young and sweet despite a rough upbringing. Her age, disposition or history didn’t hold her back. Ari went for what she wanted — especially where Matt was concerned.

Ari wasn’t the only one with a tough history. Matt’s life prior to finding the Mavericks was far from perfect. He seemed to be more influenced by his history than Ari was. At times, his fear of becoming his past held him back. Luckily, he had Ari to show him the light.

I truly loved the relationship between Matt and Ari. It was a little forbidden and a lot hot. Their relationship may have started as employer/employee but it wasn’t long before they were heating up the sheets. It wasn’t all sex between them, though. There was a deep connection from where they came from and what they wanted in life. They balanced each other out perfectly.

I can’t leave little Noah out. He was so cute! I loved how all of the Maverick’s doted on him. Ari’s relationship with him was so sweet! And Matt. He was so protective and supportive of his son. Amazing single dads are so sexy!

Fearless in Love is a classic Contemporary Romance that romance readers are bound to love. I know I did. It’s the perfect light and sexy summer read. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I’m really hoping to get Evan’s story next!